||Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
Loony Cartoony Boxing with Attitude - Review By Fragmaster
Boxing is a sport that hasn't been translated to the world of videogaming very well. If you ask the average person to think of a videogame boxing game, their first answer will probably be Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. Beyond that, a few people may remember 4D Boxing or Rocky or maybe mention something more recent like Knockout Kings, but that's about it. There just haven't been that many video boxing games, and most of the ones that have been released just haven't been that good.
Midway's Ready 2 Rumble Boxing has much more in common with Mike Tyson's Punch-Out than it does with Knockout Kings, which is definitely a good thing in most people's minds. Featuring 16 "totally whacked " fighters, a bunch of insane moves, and the voice of Michael Buffer, Ready 2 Rumble serves up a madcap mix of fast-paced boxing action.
The fighters themselves are the stars of Ready 2 Rumble, and they shine bright. The character design is top-notch. Each fighter has his or her own special moves, look, fighting style, stance, and attitude. The models themselves are borderline amazing, and the expressions on the characters faces are worth the price of admission alone. There's really not an uninteresting character in the bunch: you know the game is good when you can name all the characters off the top of your head. The animation is incredibly realistic, thanks to the copious use of motion capture. The taunts, while completely useless, add to the game's character. Actually seeing your character get bruised and bloodied is also neat.
Ready 2 Rumble's excellent graphics showcase the games' superb character design.
While the fighters certainly look good, their surroundings are pretty spiffy looking as well. There are a couple of different arenas to box in, and the rings themselves have many different canvases, even allowing you the rare opportunity to fight on Michael Buffer's face. Best of all, the crowd is actually dynamic. In most games, the spectators are just a heavily pixilated texture, but not here. You can actually see the fans react to a good punch, cheering a brutal knockout, and drinking beer. Another neat thing is that you can actually see the size of the crowd change considerably. When you first start boxing in the lower ranks, the arenas are nearly empty, with only a small handful of people (probably relatives) in attendance. As you advance through the ranks, the crowd gets bigger and bigger until you're fighting in front of packed houses.
The controls are well thought out and easy to use. Moving the characters around, throwing punches, and blocking are effortless. You can easily throw hooks, uppercuts, jabs, overhand punches, and block or dodge without having to learn a bunch of arcane button combinations. You can explain to a newbie player how to play the game in a couple of sentences, which is great since this is such a great multiplayer game.
Another big aspect of Ready 2 Rumble's gameplay is getting Rumble. Every time you score an exceptionally powerful blow to your opponent, you get a letter. Once you spell out "RUMBLE" you can activate Rumble Mode, which causes your fighter's fists to glow. When in Rumble Mode you can unleash a flurry of nearly impossible to block punches for a short period of time. A complete Rumble Flurry will send even the toughest brawler to the canvas.
Careful use of Rumble is key to being successful in Ready 2 Rumble.
Ready 2 Rumble has two modes of play: arcade mode and championship mode. Arcade mode is your standard "beat a fighter, then beat the next fighter, and the next one and the next one until you get to the boss and win" type thing. Championship mode is a bit more interesting: you start off by selecting a lowly boxer with little ability and build them up until they become the champion. You start off with a small amount of cash and can always earn more by betting money on prizefights. Of course, the real goal of championship mode is to advance in the rankings, so you'll need to fight through the ranks of bronze, silver, and gold classes to become the champion. Money is required to pay title fight entrance fees and to, more importantly, train your boxer. Each boxer has ratings for strength, stamina, dexterity, and experience. To improve these attributes, you must train your boxer by buying various equipment and lessons. You'll have to lift weights, punch bags, and take your vitamin supplements if you want to be a winner. An interesting thing with training your boxer is that the training (in most cases) is actually a mini-game. For example, when you buy weightlifting training, you'll have to time your reps properly get the most out of training. When you buy bag training, you'll have to punch the bag and learn the patterns. If you don't like the mini-games or just don't want to waste time with them, you can set training to "auto" and not actually have to "work-out" yourself. The downside is that if you get really good at a particular mini-game, you'll get more value out of it if you do it yourself. You can also stage exhibition fights with other saved fighters in championship mode.
While the default camera view in Ready 2 Rumble is perfect, you can change to a variety of camera views such as rotate about the players, ringside view, rotate about the ring, and first-person, from your boxer or the other boxer's perspective. While you probably won't mess with these camera modes very much, they're still nice to have.
The first person camera view gives the game a whole new perspective.
Ready 2 Rumble's sound and music are about the best you'll find. The voice acting is particularly awesome, thanks to the talents of announcer Michael Buffer and the numerous actors that round out the cast of characters. Your cornerman's constant barrage of encouragement (or belittlement) is also a nice touch. The actual in-game sounds are great too. Body blows sound like body blows, blocked punches sound like blocked punches, and powerful uppercuts sound suitably painful. Add a light sprinkling of ambient sounds such as the ring bell and crowd noises, and you've got one great sounding game.
The interface is extremely well done, no complaints whatsoever. It looks great, the save game system is slick, and it's easy to do whatever you want to do without flipping through pages of menus.
While Ready 2 Rumble has a lot going for it, the gameplay leaves a little to be desired. There's a real lack of replay value here, and the lack of depth prevents Ready 2 Rumble from being a really great game.
For one thing, there's a lot of humorous stuff in the game, which is great, but after you've seen something once or twice it's obviously not as cool. Part of the problem is that there just isn't enough variety. Each character has only one introduction, two taunts, two losing poses, and three victory poses. You'll laugh at the funny stuff at first, but the appeal will soon wear out (unless you're really easy to amuse) and you'll find yourself skipping past them.
Another problem with the gameplay is the fact that R2R basically turns into a button masher. Sure, you can learn how to fight like a real boxer would, blocking, choosing your shots carefully and whatnot, but you'll probably still get crushed by a human opponent who can push buttons faster than you. It doesn't help that the AI isn't that good, you can easily beat the game without blocking at all. If you don't have friends to play with, the game won't give you much of a challenge.
The fighters in Ready 2 Rumble have great expressions, which are constantly changing depending on what they're doing.
Championship mode is a good idea, but once you beat it once, you've seen everything there is to see. Theoretically, once you become champion with one character you're supposed to go through the game and make every character a champion. The problem is that doing so is not only incredibly repetitive, but you have absolutely no motivation for doing so since you've already seen everything. Sure, maybe you can fight as some boxers you normally can't fight as regularly after awhile… but if you're really interested to see what it's like to fight as Nat Daddy, you can just use cheat codes and save yourself a lot of time. Another problem with championship mode is that it's way too easy to build up cash. After you get a champion, you can just make him prize fight a couple of times for huge bucks and have tons of money to beef up your other characters without doing any hard work. Did I mention the training mode games are pretty dumb? They're just variations of Simon, mostly. Also, the championship match is kind of a letdown. The final boss just isn't very cool and didn't put up much of a fight.
While you can change the number of knockdowns, rounds, time limits, and skill level, more options would have been nice. A tournament mode, for example, would have been great.
And finally, you can't fight against Michael Buffer. Come on! If they went through all the trouble of making him into a 3D model, they should have at least made it so you could beat the living snot out of his bow tie wearin' kisser. Dammit!
The Final Word
Ready 2 Rumble is one slick looking game, the production values are first-rate all the way… but the lack of replay value and general repetitiveness make this a game you probably won't bust out much after you beat championship mode once, unless you've got friends over that haven't played it yet. Still, Ready 2 Rumble is a great game and certainly worth a rental, if nothing else. Hey, it's a hell of a lot more entertaining than real boxing and will cost you about as much as a five minute Tyson fight on pay-per-view. Eat your heart out, Don King.
Highs: Awesome graphics, memorable characters, tight controls, great sound, music, interface.
Lows: Lack of replay value and overall depth, main single-player gameplay mode is flawed, turns into a button masher, humor gets old, lack of options, can't make Buffer eat leather.
Other: 1-2 players, VMU Compatible (for saving progress and options), Arcade Stick Compatible, Jump Pack Compatible.
(out of a possible 10)
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